Labor or Unions

What Does Labor Want? The Illinois Workers Rights Amendment

What Does Labor WantWhat Does Labor Want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails, more books and less guns, more learning and less vice, more leisure and less greed, more justice and less revenge… We want more opportunities to cultivate our better nature.”

– Samuel Gompers

In November of 2022, Illinoisans will be voting on a proposed change to the Illinois state constitution regarding workers’ rights. The Worker’s Rights Amendment would establish a fundamental right for workers to be able to unionize and engage in collective bargaining. The amendment would effectively ban “right-to-work” laws in Illinois.

Illinois House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 34 and Illinois Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 11 would permanently ban the passage of any so-called “right-to-work” laws which are designed to reduce worker rights and benefits employers.

The term “right-to-work ” refers to laws that prohibit union security agreements between employers and labor unions.

A union security agreement is a contractual agreement, in which an employer and a labor union agree on the ability of the union to compel employees to join the union. The union security agreement may also require the employer to collect dues on behalf of the union. Currently, 28 states have right-to-work laws that make it illegal to require union membership or pay fair share fees as a condition of employment.

The proposed Illinois Workers’ Rights amendment reads as follows:

“Employees shall have the fundamental right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing for the purpose of negotiating wages, hours, and working conditions, and to protect their economic welfare and safety at work. No law shall be passed that interferes with, negates, or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively over their wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment and workplace safety, including any law or ordinance that prohibits the execution or application of agreements between employers and labor organizations that represent employees requiring membership in an organization as a condition of employment.”

Advocates for the amendment say that union workers positively impact the state’s economy:

“Even after accounting for factors such as cost of living, occupation, race, and gender, wages and income growth are at least 6% higher in Illinois. More Illinois workers have employer-sponsored health insurance. Per worker productivity in Illinois is 15% higher. Poverty and consumer debt levels are lower. More workers in Illinois own their homes, despite relatively high property taxes. Workforce participation is higher. Workplace fatalities are 32% lower in Illinois. And twice as many Illinois workers are represented by unions than in the average “right-to-work” state.”

An Economic Policy Institute study found that the 17 U.S. states with the highest union densities have state minimum wages that average 40% higher than those in low-union-density states.

For more on Illinois Worker’s Rights visit

Thanks and a tip of the hat to Daniel Schwen at Wikimedia for the image of the Illinois House of Representatives and Shan Shanmugam Sgi also at Wikimedia for the Union Yes image.

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